No, it's not some new astromech droid from Star Wars, it's the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo!
To put it bluntly, I had a fucking blast! I woke up at around 8, got a shower and dressed, swung by and picked up Dusdan and we were off! The coolest thing on the trip up to Chicago was all of the Wind Turbines that were installed along I-65 just outside of Lafayette. Holy Hell it was like being transported into some European county, very surreal. After stopping off at the emptiest Subway in America, we realized the time difference between here and Chicago despite us only traveling about 30 miles west. After gaining an hour we managed to make several wrong turns along the way, we were safely put back on track with the assistance of Dusdan's Omni-Tool, aka the iPhone. After arriving and paying 20 bucks(bulllllshit!) for parking we made our way indoors.
After surveying the battlefield Duzz and I walked down the central lane and stopped by the Threadless booth and said hello to our mutual friend Lance Curran. In Artist Alley we said hello to Guy Davis, Artist of B.P.R.D and creator of Marquis. After yakkin' at Guy about Aeron Alfreys absence from the con we decided to hit up George R.R. Martins table and and get our books signed before he left for break. Since a Feast for Crows is the only hardcover Martin book we both own, that's the one we got signed. George was a totally cool dude(he looks like Santa Claus!), there wasn't very many people at his table this early, so we got little talk time at him while he signed our books(he wrote "all the best" in my, and "keep your swords sharp" in Duzz's).
After getting our books signed, we split up and exploring the grounds on our own. I dropped some mail off at Erika Moen and Lucy Knisley's table and made my way into the DC booth to check out some of the new toys coming out this year. They had several new WoW toys, including Garrosh Hellscream and the Lich King, a surprise was a bunch of Mass Effect 2 toys which I didn't even know they had, they showed off Male Commander Shepard, Grunt, Thane and Tali, they all looked cool except Tali who's helmet wasn't made from clear plastic.
Departing from the DC area, I stopped by the Archaia Studio's booth and said hello to David Petersen, creator of Mouse Guard. He gave me a signature and a cool sketch on my hardcover Mouse Guard Fall 1152 book. I would have really have liked to talk to him more, but no sooner then I had gotten by book signed a line started forming behind me, I bid him well and continued on. I strolled by Artists Alley and tried to stop by Jill Thompson's table, but she was out doing a something so I wandered around some more. While wandering Artist Alley, I bumped into Erika Moen, creator of DAR. It was really cool running into her, we chatted for a few seconds before we split up, though I made sure to tell her I'd be by her booth to buy some of her goods.
Around 4 Duzz and I hooked up again to get lunch. The food court was pretty big with a fantastic view of the Lake Front, although the food was expensive, 6.50 for a Hot Dog and a can of Pepsi, and the Hot Dog wasn't all that great. After lunch we split up again and continued our adventures.
The amount of Comic Store booths at this place was pretty impressive, with a great selection of comics/toys/graphic novels or any thing else a comic shop would carry. There was also plenty of clothing places too, the afford mentioned Threadless among them. One of the best sights however was the Cosplayers, I'm still kicking myself for forgetting my camera. There was a guy dressed up as Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3, a beautifully curvaceous Wonder Woman, and thick thighed Cammy from Street Fighter, and even a Cursed Pirate Girl.
Around 4 I made my way back to Artist Alley were I finally got to meet Jill Thompson. I really dig her water colors and I picked up a Beasts of Burden print that she was kind enough to sign. One thing I found out about Jill Thompson is that this lady loves to talk, talktalktalktalk, but she does it in the kind of like your favorite aunt who's always understanding, and not the aunt who's always bustin' your balls about how you're living your life. I made my way out of Artist Alley and over to the web comics section. I felt really sorry for these guys because they were positioned right next to the tatooing booth, that would really suck to have to watch people get tatoos all weekend. I first stopped by Danielle Corsetto table and said hello, she's a really cool chick and I picked up a 7$ sketch of Hazel from Girls with Slingshots with my name on it. Then I went one booth over to Jeph Jacques' table where Jeph was doing sketches for 5$ bucks a pop. Jeph was kind enough to indulge me by giving me a sketch of Hanner's as Tali from Mass Effect 2.
Finally, I stopped by Erika Moen and Lucy Knisleys table. I talked to Erika's husband Matt Nolan for like 30 minutes about Mass Effect 2 and the choices of good and evil in video games. I bought a copy of DAR and chatted with Erika about her model work and life in Portland. I scooted over a few feet and talked to Lucy Knisley, she thanked me for my letter I gave her and we talked for awhile about cats, art, food and family for a good while before I decided to depart so she could get back to her commission artwork, it was totally the high point of my time there.
I made one last tour of the Artists Alley before leaving and while making a turn a woman came up to me and asked if I liked Neil Gaiman, I replied "of course" and she gave me a free ticket to his reading that he was having later that evening. As cool as it would have been to see Neil speak, it was only one ticket, and I didn't want to make Duzz wait in like for a ticket he might not even get, so we just said fuck it and made our way out. A few wrong turns later we were out of Chicago and on our way back home. We made a pit stop in Merriville for some Chipolte and continued on. After we lost the hour we gained we got back around 11, exhausted, but happy we made the trip. Hopefully next year I'll remember my camera and even perhaps stay for the whole weekend.